AM28: Melting Grill

1PM, 12/3/2022
https://www.meltinggrillrocklin.com/

I think I saw this place on Yelp or somewhere in passing recently and couldn’t stop thinking about it. This Saturday I got it out of my system with a visit for lunch. Melting Grill is a Korean restaurant located right near the Blue Oaks Century theaters, just across the parking lot. Despite the tasty dishes I had seen photos of, making this place look like a full on table-service type place, it’s more like a fast-casual cafe. They offer a bunch of small-medium plates with a modern take on many traditional dishes. They also offer a large bubble tea menu.

When I arrived and stepped inside there were just a couple customers sitting, waiting for their tea orders. The friendly woman running the front welcomed me in before I had even spotted her behind the counter. The space is medium sized but feels spacious and open. Two long and bright LED strips running the length of the dining room provided a ton of light, so much so that I was distracted by them at first and wasn’t sure where to sit for the best lighting. Once I had settled in I quickly forgot about them though. First things first, up to the counter to order.

I had looked over the menu a bit before heading over and had a pretty good idea of what I wanted. I went over the entire menu once more to make sure my selections were there and see if there was anything I had missed. Honestly just about the entire menu looked like stuff I’d order, but I stuck with my earlier choices. These were:

  • Pork Belly Musubi (Slow cooked pork belly topped with Korean spicy BBQ sauce) [$5]
    • Hard for me to pass up something with pork belly. You can order one or two pieces ($5/9.50)
  • Corn Cheese (Korean style of corn cheese; sweet and savory flavor with sweet corn and mozzarella cheese, sprinkled with green onion and sesame seed) [$6.50]
  • Spicy Creamy Salmon (Salmon with spicy creamy sauce, shredded imitation crab, wonton skin chips, lemon wedge and rice) [$18]

My two appetizers arrived together in just under 10 minutes. The pork belly musubi was a pretty big chunk of rice with the belly perched on top. I must not have read the full description because I was a little surprised by the spicy BBQ flavor of the sauce. It was not a flavor I was expecting at all. At the time I had a tough time putting my finger on the exact flavor. On the menu I see a random entree, hanging out in the “Items” section (which seems like more of a sides or catchall for random misc things), called Cajun Seafood. That’s exactly what I was tasting, it was sort of a Cajun spice. It wasn’t all that spicy, but it was tasty. I had hoped for a bit more tender chunk of pork. This needed a bit of work to get a bit out, good thing I had both a fork and chopsticks to work with, because I would have struggled with chopsticks alone.

The corn cheese dish was served in a black square dish with a handle that made me think cast iron skillet, especially because she tested the bottom before setting it down on the table to make sure it wasn’t too hot. Indeed it was quite toasty and the cheese was nicely melted into the loads of corn. This was a delicious appetizer and so simple. A very nice blend of sweet and savory.

On to the main dish, which came out about six minutes after the appetizers, perfect timing. This was incredible. The imitation crab was hard to spot, covered in the orange sauce and blending in with the rice underneath it, but I could smell it as soon as I brought a scoop up to my mouth. The portions were good, although it’s hard to tell in the photo. The salmon was a good 3×4” fillet, perfectly tender. Underneath it was a heaping serving of rice. I was glad to have all of it to soak up all the delicious and creamy sauce. I didn’t really get any spiciness from this at all. The cream sauce tamped down whatever was there. Although I enjoyed the crispy wonton strips, they felt a little out of place in this dish, at least with the fork I had continued using from earlier. Probably easier to grab these with chopsticks but I just used my fingers. I inhaled this dish and picked at some of the remaining corn before the “full” signal made it’s way to my brain.

I very much enjoyed this visit and it mostly lived up to my high-ish expectations, based solely on photos of all the dishes on yelp. I could see myself coming back here for sure, there’s still much to explore on the menu.

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#283: Mochinut

2PM, 9/18/2022

https://www.mochinut.com/

I set out yesterday for sushi at Tang’s at Foothills & Blue Oaks, only to find they are only open for dinner on Saturdays. For a quick backup plan I switched to Mochinut, located near Top Golf on Washington. Mochinut is a Korean donut / corn dog chain (an odd combo, but ok). I’ve been excited to try the dogs here since I heard they were coming to Roseville, however I had to wait a while as they were only doing donuts (or the dogs were very limited) for a while after opening.

I pulled up and snapped some photos before heading in at about 2PM. Inside it’s a very simple, very pink space. The counter shows off one of each donut flavor and ordering is mostly a self serve situation, very similar to Local Kitchens. However, if you want to pay cash you can ring a bell and someone will come ring you up. Interesting to note that they charge 4% on all non-cash transactions. A couple of benches offer a place to sit while you wait for your order to be called out. I only ever saw any staff when they were bringing out an order. Other than that it very much felt like an unattended lobby.

The website shows a sizable selection of interesting donut flavors. Today there were 7 options available (plain, original glazed, milk n’ cookies, funnel cake, maple pecan, passion fruit, and churro).

The corn dogs have six variations to choose from (original, potato, cheddar cheese, crispy ramen, hot Cheetos and crunch cereal). Most of these are essentially a coating over the crispy battered original. The cheddar cheese appears to put a layer of cheese between the hot dog and the batter. On top of this, you can get this with a hot dog or mozzarella cheese, or even a half and half.

I wanted to try a little bit of everything, but that was going to quickly add up. I settled on a 3-pack of donuts (Milk N’ Cookies, Maple Pecan, Original Glaze)[$10.35] and two half & half corn dogs (Original [$5.95] and Hot Cheetos [$7.54]). They do also offer some milk-based drinks (milk tea, Thai tea, use, matcha, etc) but I didn’t order anything from this part of the menu today. According to the website some locations also have some soft serve options, however I don’t recall seeing that here. My order came out in twelve minutes and I headed off deep into a nearby business park to find a quiet spot to eat.

I started off with the corn dogs. First thing was that I was expecting the mozzarella and hot dog pieces to be separate (so basically 4 sticks with half the stick used). Instead I had what appeared to be two full sized dogs each on a stick. Diving right in I discovered that the mozzarella was at the top of this, followed by half a hot dog further down the stick. The original had a really fantastic crunchy texture. The batter was more bread-y than a corndog type of batter. I just read on their website that the batter is a rice-flour batter, rather than a traditional American corn dog batter. The mozzarella was super soft and much like a mozzarella stick it stretched way out with each bite. I should take this moment to note that there were a bunch of sauces available to order but I completely spaced on those. I think they would enhance the mozzarella half of this quite a bit. The hot dog portion was fantastic. They use a good quality beef dog that reminded me of the good ones you get at a ball game (or even Costco’s cafe lol).

Moving on to the Hot Cheetos one, as I picked this up I wondered how the Cheetos dust was sticking on it so well. It become clear as soon as I looked at it closely. There was a layer of something, mayo I think, used to stick the bright red coating on it. This was a much, much messier dog to eat. Thankfully I was standing in a parking lot, so I left the local birds some spicy treats. Actually, beyond the initial few bites as they hit my tongue, this wasn’t that hot. That layer of mayo, or whatever it was, really carried a lot of weight in the flavor of this whole thing and drowned out the hot Cheetos almost entirely. When I got to the flavorful hot dog in the last half the dust was nearly undetectable. This was a really interesting and tasty item, though I think I preferred the original a bit more just for it’s simplicity. I fully intend to come back and try all the other options in due time.

For dessert I cracked open the donut box. All of a sudden I wasn’t sure if I needed to reevaluate my donut categories. Does this fit into my long standing slots – Standard, Krispy Kreme or Fancy? Ultimately, I think I can safely group these with Krispy Kreme. The dough is similar, yet a bit chewier than KK’s original glazed donut, . I found the original glaze and the milk n’ cookies to be very close. Milk n’ cookies had a bit more longer lasting, extremely sweet flavor. Other than the bits of cookies stuck to it (which tasted similar to Chips Ahoy), it seemed not that much different than the glazed. The maple pecan had a good maple flavor, just like every other maple donut I’ve had. The pecans were a nice little touch though, I only wish there had been more on it. As with the milk n’ cookies donut, the crunchy toppings on these two donuts were seriously lacking. The display donuts on the counter had toppings on 50-100% of these two flavors . Mine had more like 25-50% coverage.

While the donuts were good, I find myself thinking about the corn dogs so much more. That’s what I’ll be returning for. The donuts didn’t really stand out apart from all the other donut options we have around, aside from the slightly chewy property of their dough.

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